Anger is a normal human emotion. Contrary to what many believe, it is not wrong to be angry. Rather, it is how we channel that anger that determines whether it becomes a problem in our lives. Here are some tips that you can use to regain control of anger when it starts to become a problem.
1. Know your triggers
Knowing what instances trigger your anger can help you avoid them ahead of time, or feel more equipped to handle them and stay in control when they arise.
2. Notice the physical warning signs
Recognize what is happening in your body when your anger starts to rise (for example, pounding heart, grinding teeth, tightness in the chest). Doing this will give you the opportunity to calm down and de-escalate the situation before things get out of hand.
3. Check your thinking
When anger strikes, it can quickly overwhelm our thoughts and cause us to act irrationally. To regain control, try replacing unhelpful thoughts with more constructive ones. For example, rephrase negative self-talk such as ‘I can’t stand it, this is unbearable’, to something more caring and compassionate like ‘I feel frustrated, and that is understandable, but I don’t need to lose my cool, I am okay’.
4. Take time out
If you are becoming angry, step out of the room, or go for a walk. As you take this time for yourself, plan how you intend to stay calm when the conversation resumes.
5. Stay Distracted
Try to shift your focus from the situation at hand to something else. You might try listening to music, talking to a friend, watching TV or exercising.
6. Use relaxation techniques
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as grounding, long and deep breathing, can help reduce stress and tension in the body.
7. Be assertive, not aggressive – and know the difference
Being assertive means confidently communicating your needs in a clear, direct and respectful way. Being aggressive involves intimidating, humiliating or disregarding the needs of others in order to get your own way.
8. Rehearse anger management skills
Practice makes perfect, so dedicate some time to visualize or role-play your anger management strategies. Rehearsing with a friend, or practice saying things in an assertive (rather than aggressive) way in front of the mirror can help you manage your aggressive tendencies.
9. Consider other underlying emotions
Sometimes anger is secondary to other underlying emotions. For example, anger might be a result of feeling fearful, embarrassed, or sad. Being honest with our emotional experience can help us understand and resolve our anger.
10. Seek professional support
Working with a therapist can be a helpful way to understand your anger, identify potential triggers, and develop techniques to manage and express your emotions in a healthy way. We can help!